How to Clean Up Your WordPress Website
As your website grows, it accumulates new content, new media files, new user profiles, new themes, plugins, and other software and files. All of these have a function, sure, but sometimes you may only be trying things out. Sometimes you may decide to use a different piece of media for your article‘s featured image. Sometimes a plugin becomes useless as you remove a functionality from your website or implement another solution. All of those files are creating clutter, and more than just clutter: dangerous ways for bad actors to hack your website.
In this article, we will be discussing the ways to clean up your WordPress website, but also the reasons why you should be doing it.
There are three main reasons why you should be cleaning up your WordPress website from time to time:
Firstly, out-of-date plugins and themes are a liability. They are very vulnerable to attacks by hackers, even if they are deactivated. If a plugin or a theme has been abandoned by its developer, your website might be threatened.
Secondly, there‘s user experience. The larger the website, the longer it takes to load. Your users will not appreciate slow loading times. Search engines will also rank fast loading websites better than slow loading ones.
Finally, there‘s the question of server space: all of these files are hosted on your server. If server space is an issue for you, you would do well to clean up the unnecessary files, especially media files, and free up the server space for what is really needed.
So, not only will you be making it safer, by cleaning it up, you will speed up your website.
Whatever themes or plugins you end up using, you should always be using the latest version thereof. You can update any plugin from the Plugins screen of your WordPress dashboard. If there is a new version of a plugin you are using, you will see a prompt to update the plugin. Simply select the update now link.
You can update your themes similarly from the Appearance/Themes section of your website.
Your website may be down for a short while if you are updating a theme you are using or a plugin required for its running.
If you are not using a plugin or theme anymore, the best you can do is delete it. You can do that from your Plugins screen. When a plugin is deactivated, you will see the option to delete it.
To delete a theme, navigate to the Appearance/Themes section of your website and hover over a theme. Click on the Theme Details button when it appears.
Once there, you will find the Delete link in the lower right hand side corner.
Clicking that link will delete a theme.
Note that it is not enough just not to use a theme or deactivate a plugin to remove the security risks stemming from out of date software. If you are not sure you want to delete a plugin or a theme, do update them.
Deleting a theme or a plugin is easy. Deleting media from your media library is equally easy, only it takes a long while to do so manually. You can employ a plugin such as Enable Media Replace to replace images, and then delete unneeded ones. You could also try a media cleanup plugin such as Media Cleaner to automate part of the process.
You can also reduce clutter by a great deal by optimizing your image files.
If you are discontinuing a tag or a category or deleting all posts by a certain author (after expiry of publication rights, say), and you want to remove all posts belonging to that category, you can easily do that in WordPress. Simply bulk delete your posts using WordPress‘s own functionalities.
Post revisions can also cause clutter on your website. While there is no easy way to delete them using WordPress‘s core functionalities, you can use a plugin such as WP Bulk Delete to do just that.
Your users do not need to know and will likely never know if you are using the latest version of a theme or a plugin. What they can notice is if any of the information available to them is out of date.
This means updating your user information by deleting old accounts and making sure all your users are distributed across appropriate user roles and have all the permissions they need.
Another issue which may start cropping up are broken links: perhaps, in an old article, you linked to some content which is no longer there. This affects the user experience adversely as they expect to be able to access all the content you are referring to. A plugin such as Broken Link Checker to check for these links.
Once you have done all that, conduct a thorough content review. Perhaps some of your posts have become irrelevant or obsolete, and they need to be updated or deleted. Do so, and rid your website of the clutter. Your visitors will thank you.
As your website grows, so grow the problems which it may cause for you, both on the security side of things and on the user experience side. A thorough cleanup of your WordPress website may seem a daunting task for a small operation or a one-person-job, but a lot of what you really need to do is relatively easy and quick. You can‘t afford to run your website on obsolete themes and plugins, no matter what you do, and updating them is a click or two of the mouse. Much of the rest of the work that needs to be done on the maintenance of your website can be assisted or even fully automated using free plugins.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!